A great man once said “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson Mandela.
Themba Msimango has spend the past few years impacting lives using his philosophical level of thinking, writing and constant sharing of information he accumulate from interacting with people and the many books he reads.
He is the founder of Readers Minds; an online book fraternity that strongly believes that a reading mind is a leading mind. A highly experienced communicator with a demonstrated track record of working as a Public Relations Consultant at First National Bank.
Themba’s journey to be where he is today hasn’t been a bed or roses. He has had his fair share of challenges in life, making him the resilient and persistent person that we know today.
After12 Magazine spoke to Themba Msimango to get the story behind the glory. And here it is:
For people who don’t know you, who is Themba Msimango?
I am a student of life who is deeply driven by philosophy. I am fascinated by perennial questions and wisdom of how to live and die, human nature & power. I chose Stoicism philosophy as my operating system of life. Stoicism is an ancient philosophy that teaches the principles of knowing what is in your control and not in your control. On a lighter note, I am a simple and humble guy who enjoys learning from everyone. Lastly, I am a Public Relations Consultant at FNB.
How has growing up in Tembisa like for you?
Oh man there is a lot to share but I will keep it brief, growing up in Thembisa, or as we used to spell it without the ‘H’, was a mix bag of experiences that shaped me to become a better person.
I have never spoken publicly, but I was raised in a one room backroom. My grandmother and late grandfather were kind enough to build us this backroom. I lived in this one room with my mother Joanah Lubisi and my younger brother Jabulane Msimango. I will forever be grateful to them for this. This room was filled with warm love, dreams, support and striving to be a better person.
Thembisa is filled with many facets which includes kasi nerds, ‘abo kleva’, aspiring soccer players, musicians and entrepreneurs. It also includes societal issues such as crime, poverty just to name a few. I started working in primary school for a tuckshop called KwaThwala (no longer operating) in my neighbourhood at Xubeni.
The tuckshop was known for making the best kotas and my job was to peel potatoes. I was one of the fastest people who can peel a potato quicker and I eventually graduated to making kotas. This whole experience contributed to my attitude and strong work ethic.
I like this song by Last Days Fam from Thembisa titled: Place of My Birth. It talks about Thembisa and its promise, I think this song puts it beautifully. It centres me and makes me to reminisce about my upbringing.
“I love my people man, they are part of who I be. If there never wasn’t them, they would never be me. It’s no mistake that I grew up where I did when I did in my neighbourhood the corner I remember as a kid.”
You were faced with a dilemma of going to university or taking care of your sick mother and you chose the latter. Why?
I chose to take care of my mother because she means the world to me. She did every odd job you can think off to raise me and my brother. I used to tell her that I want to go to a private school and not understand that it is economically impossible for her. She used to say, and I will never forget this, it doesn’t matter which school you attend just do your best with what you have.
What was the inspiration behind starting Readers Minds?
According to the South African Book Development Council, at the time in 2016, only five percent of South African parents read to their children. With 14 percent of the population being active book-readers.
These alarming statistics and the call for more initiatives to promote and inculcate a culture of reading kept me and my friend Zamokuhle Zwane awake at night. This led us to start this initiative.
What is life like living in lockdown?
It has been very eye opening, interesting, challenging and productive at the same time. I now have more time to focus on the things that matter to me such as writing for my blog, reading and connecting with family and friends.
What do you do to cope & what’s your philosophy during this lockdown?
I write and read a lot, listen to podcasts and I think Gareth Cliff, Founder of CliffCentral is doing a fantastic job in the podcast space. I also love how the Good Things Guy platform is bringing a lot of positive stories in our country. As mentioned, I chose Stoicism as my operating system of life 3 years ago. I choose to focus on the things that I can control in this lockdown such as my attitude and using this time effectively.
One of your favourite authors is Ryan Holiday, how has his writing inspired you?
I consider Ryan Holiday as one of the great philosophers and strategic thinkers of my time. His writing introduced me to Stoicism, how to shape my character and live my life, timeless wisdom, strategy, media and marketing. I promised myself that I will read everything he publishes, and I have bought every book he produced thus far. He also has two daily emails and podcasts titled Daily Stoic talking about Stoicism principles and Daily Dad talking about how to be a better dad.
What is your motto in life?
“The Obstacle is they way. Ego is the enemy. Stillness is the key” – Trilogy of Ryan Holiday
How do you unwind?
Running, taking walks, watching movies & series, spend time with my family and friends.
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